Another College Football regular season is officially in the books as everyone associated with Tennessee is sitting at the edge of their seats waiting to learn where the Volunteers will travel to play their bowl game. That’s right, it’s that time of year again, the part of the year where bowl projections are running wild as we only have a few more days before we officially learn where the Vols will be headed to. Up to this point, most of the speculation seemed to be focused on the Taxslayer Gator Bowl, however, yesterday ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach released an intriguing prediction, to say the least.
Both Bonagura and Schlabach predict the Volunteers to meet up with Minnesota in the Outback Bowl, a prediction that would have seemed absurd just a few weeks ago. Minnesota is the 15th ranked team in the nation according to the Associated Press’ Top 25 Poll and finished 2nd in the Big Ten West, barley missing out on the opportunity to play Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game following a 38-17 loss to the 10th ranked Wisconsin Badgers. That heartbreaker was one of the Gophers’ two losses on the season, the other came on the road against the 18th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in an extremely hard-fought match-up. If the Vols and Gophers were to clash it would be their first meeting since the 1986 Liberty Bowl, which Johnny Majors’ Vols won by a score of 21-14.
The Volunteers will find out for sure who they will play this Sunday following the conclusion of the conference championship games. One thing to remember for Tennessee fans if they do not get their preferred destination is to remember where they were just a few weeks ago, any bowl game would have seemed like a stretch. While there is nothing wrong with hoping for a Florida Bowl it is important to not let that distract from how far Tennessee has come. If things don’t go their way on Selection Sunday, no matter what, this was a miraculous turnaround for Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee that should continue to receive rightful praise among fans and the media.
With excitement at an all-time high in the Jeremy Pruitt era and with Selection Sunday right around the corner, it’s anyone’s guess where the Vols will end up. However, whether it’s the Outback Bowl, Taxslayer Bowl, or even the Music City Bowl this season will be remembered as the team that never gave up in the face of adversity.